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Chihuahua survives owl airlift attack in Chicago suburb

by Jorge Hernandez on January 19, 2011

Chico, a four-pound Chihuahua, is lucky to have gotten away after a great horned owl swooped down on him during a walk with his owner in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Thankfully, the puffy winter jacket the canine was wearing prevented the bird from getting a good enough grip on him to carry him away.

George Kalomiris was walking Chico early Wednesday morning when the dog suddenly stopped and whimpered. Moments later, an owl with a five-foot wingspan came down from the sky and attempted to drag him away. Kalomiris held on tightly to Chico's leash as he was dragged across the sidewalk and eventually scared the bird away after it failed to grab the dog.

With several scratches and a puncture wound on his side, Chico has been treated and has quickly recovered for the most part, other than a new-found fear of going outside in the dark, Kalomiris told the Associated Press.

Kalomiris normally walks his two Chihuahuas in the daylight, but decided that Wednesday to take Chico out in the dark, the Crystal Lake Northwest Herald reports.

"[Owls don't] know the difference between a pet animal or a prey animal. With a small dog like that, there is a potential that larger raptor species could take them down," Rebecca Murphy of the McHenry County Conservation District's Wildlife Resource Center told the news source.

According to the news source, the great horned owl is common in the region surrounding the Chicago suburb and has the ability to prey on even larger animals than Chico, though an attack on a domestic pet is highly uncommon.

"They're opportunistic. The reason it's not real common is usually the human is right there, and having it there, that should frighten away a predator," said Murphy.

Great horned owls like the one that attacked Chico can apply 200 to 300 pounds of pressure per square inch with their talons.

"Now I feel vindicated for buying dog clothes," George's wife Dana Kalomiris told the news source.

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